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  Publicity Stills of
"Space Chimps"
(Courtesy of GV)

Genre: CG Animation
Director: Kirk Demicco
Cast: Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Patrick Warburton, Kristin Chenoweth, Stanley Tucci
RunTime: 1 hr 17 mins
Released By: Golden Village
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.spacechimpspower.com/

Opening Day: 14 August 2008


When a $5 billion Space Agency probe disappears into an intergalactic wormhole, the agency recruits Ham III, grandson of the first chimpanzee in space, to help retrieve the wayward craft. But Ham is a free-spirited circus performer more interested in zero gravity high jinks than living up to his illustrious heritage. The simian slacker becomes a reluctant hero and learns the true meaning of courage as he and his crewmates, the fearless Lt. Luna and their uptight commander, Titan, risk everything in an effort to save the peaceful inhabitants of a distant planet from an evil dictator.

Movie Review:

There is an unwritten rule that any studio even contemplating an animated feature must first acknowledge: Pixar has set the bar almost impossibly high for this genre. With the likes of The Incredibles and the upcoming Wall-E, long gone are the days when the quality of the animation and the ‘cute’ factor along could make up for deficiencies in plot/storyline. Pixar has also proved that animated features can be smart and worthy movies. Sadly, 20th Century Fox seems to either a) be trapped in the 20th century or b) have forgotten that cartoons, like comics, are no longer just for kids. It is telling that the most memorable event at this preview screening was the free bananas your reviewer got at the door. As a matter of fact, he even had trouble staying awake.

The plot of Space Chimps simply plods along, in a manner that is neither particularly memorable nor offensive. In essence, the movie is a tribute to that sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes, with main players Ham (Andy Samberg), Luna (Cheryl Hines) and Titan (Patrick Warburton) rendered almost exactly like the apes in POTA. It’s also replete with the expected references to Apollo 13, The Right Stuff, Armageddon, and even Toy Story. Unfortunately, none of these references are funny or even original. Having Ham say “Houston, we have a etc etc” as their spaceship is about to crash feels like some attempted comedy sketch out of the mid-90s. But the award for Most Groan-Worthy gag goes to the line he utters when, while running from some very silly-looking aliens, he winds up running on a giant wheel: “They don’t call me the Hamster for nothing”

At the risk of stating the obvious, the voice talents can lift an average or mediocre animated feature to another level. Unfortunately, they are almost uniformly disappointing. And Saturday Night Live player Samberg, probably the most well-known name here, and the latest from the cast to launch a movie career, is the biggest disappointment. He displays a curious lack of energy and charisma in his voicing, considering the zany, creative energy that he has exhibited on SNL. Even dependable character actor Stanley Tucci, as the Senator overseeing the space programme, is unmemorable. Kristin Chenoweth is the only highlight as a tiny alien named Kilowatt who gives off her own light. (Geddit? On second thought, you probably don’t want to.)

Essentially, Space Chimps tries to be too clever and satirical by half, but lacks one vital ingredient: humour. The gags are predictable at best, pedestrian at worse, producing only the occasional snigger. Fox really should have thought a lot more about the script before it ever even approached the drawing board.

Movie Rating:

(Life-like characters, but little life in the script and performance)

Review by Nicholas Yong


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. Valiant (2005)

. Back to Gaya (2004)



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